Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 108 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 108 Summary

Chicken George returns to the Lea plantation shocked by the disrepair of his old homeplace. Seeing an old woman sitting hunched over, Chicken George finds that it’s Miss Malizy. Unfortunately, Miss Malizy’s mind is long gone. She only partially recalls that he is Chicken George, who frantically asks where his family is. Miss Malizy absentmindedly responds that they are all gone with only her and Tom Lea left. When pressed, Miss Malizy says that Kizzy has died and rests under a tree near the edge of the property. Chicken George yells out in grief. He doesn’t want to rattle the senile Miss Malizy, who has just told him his wife and children have been sold; he runs to the big house yelling Tom Lea’s name.

Tom Lea is in a worse state of disrepair than his house and grounds. Drunk and disheveled, Tom Lea stares at Chicken George. After recognizing him, Tom Lea is so excited that he tries to give a grand hug but stumbles. 

For the first time, Chicken George and Tom Lea share an alcoholic drink together. Chicken George spends the entire afternoon buttering up Lea to hear where Matilda and the children are. Absentmindedly, Tom Lea tells Chicken George about the death of Mrs. Lea, Kizzy, and Sister Sarah. Tom Lea also describes how poor he is now. He even had to sell the last of his chickens; however, in his mid-eighties, he wouldn’t be much use as a cockfighter now.

Chicken George almost lunges angrily at Tom Lea when he says the two of them “can get this place agoin’ again.” Chicken George calmly reminds Lea of his promise to free George while demanding, again, the whereabouts of his wife and children. Finally, Tom Lea says he sold them to Master Murray in Alamance County.

Now Chicken George only has to find the freedom papers Tom Lea had drawn up and signed before he left for England. Chicken George knows they would be in what Tom Lea calls his “strongbox.” He gets Tom Lea so drunk that he slumps down onto the table, and then he searches the house.

He finds the box under the bed, takes it outside, and busts it open with a hatchet. Sure enough, inside are George’s freedom papers. Holding the coveted papers in his hand and with a quick hug for Miss Malizy, Chicken George rides away from the Lea plantation, never looking back.